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Tuesday, September 20
Wednesday, September 14
Had a blast creating this illo for Inside Business magazine ref two competing sports talk radio shows. Can you guess which city? :) Would have liked more time to fuss and add details, but I'm happy with the result regardless of the tight deadline.
Monday, September 12
Working two months in advance for Fire Engineering magazine can be a bit tricky with timely material like the cartoon above - especially when the material is so emotionally charged. Funny thing is, working that far in advance I sometimes forget what I've submitted - hey, I'm getting older!! However, when I received my copies of Fire Engineering in the mail today, it all came rushing back - there it was on page 34 staring back at me! I've never claimed to be prophetic, but I think subconsciously this cartoon said everything about 9/11 that I felt deep down inside but never wanted to admit.
I can't imagine what it must have been like that day - staring up at those burning Towers. Can't imagine the horrors that our Brothers witnessed. Can't imagine seeing, hearing, and feeling those same Towers fall. And I can't imagine working endless hours and days looking for my firehouse family within the debris. My heart literally breaks for them and their families!
The emotional wounds are healing, but the scar is still very real!
Friday, September 9
Friday, September 2
Tuesday, August 30
Here's a drawing I did while in Boston this past Spring. Saw this gentleman near Boston Common and he immediately caught my attention with his big smile and face full of tangled beard. After a few minutes of quick sketching his essence before moving on, I realized that this man is blind. Interestingly he has an uncanny ability to talk and interact with people in the direction they are walking - a skill honed from years on the street, no doubt. He seemed in very good spirits about living on the street and was very honest about his intended use of donations:) I did not embellish the spelling here, folks - this is what he, or someone, had written on his sign. Being blind, I only assume he knew what it said.
Here are a few other drawings that I did from trips to Baltimore and Boston this year. Have a great trip planned for this Fall - can't wait to do more drawings of the people I meet and see. Getting excited!! I will share more later...
Sunday, August 28
Spent yesterday afternoon at the Ft Wayne Firefighter's Museum. Thanks to brother Jason Wyss for taking the time to talk about Ft Wayne's rich fire history. Beautiful old rigs (including their 1890's steamer) and ol' station 3 is amazing! If you're in the area, please stop by and pay them a visit - it's well worth your time!
Wednesday, August 24
5,4,3,2,1... Ready? Launch!!
Welcome to the inaugural "The Fire Line," folks! I'm extremely proud to introduce a fun project that will hopefully bring a grin and maybe a snort or two — this one's just for laughs! Almost everyone is familiar with my biting editorial cartoons, but I'm often inspired to draw something just for fun. No preconceived opinion or point, "The Fire Line" is to be silly for the sake of being silly.
Why this title? In one respect, a fire line is a barrier between us and the general public - a special zone where only we operate and only we understand. It's more than a stretch of barrier tape, it's a firefighters only domain. These comics aren't for everyone (though all are welcome to enjoy), they're for you, the Brotherhood!
So, to light this candle I am throwing my very good friend Chief Billy Goldfeder under the bus! Sorry, Chief! This cartoon was created last year and was intended to accompany the Chief's introduction for my book "Drawn By Fire," but was unfortunately left on the cutting board. However, in light of Chief Goldfeder's appearance this morning on CNN's Headline News, it has risen from the depths of cartoon purgatory. My friend, my mentor, my brother, truly is EVERYWHERE!!
…and we thank him for his dedication!
Monday, August 22
Thursday, August 18
Humor is a powerful drug! We use it on a daily basis without even knowing it, and it's a medicine with healing and regenerative effects. At times, the things we talk and joke about in the fire service would seem crass and inappropriate to the general public, but it performs the job of defusing stressful situations in a way that can't fully be explained. Generally playful and good-natured, other times dark and sarcastic - either way, it allows us to expel stress in a way that doesn't show vulnerability. Laughter is contagious, therapeutic, and necessary for our health, station morale, and home life. Laughter can't solve every issue, but it's an effective first response that may mitigate the problem.
Wednesday, August 17
Had a blast with this one and am pretty happy with the final result. Wish I would have had more time to add details, especially in the snake.
Tuesday, August 9
We Americans love our Hollywood heroes and icons, and Marvel's latest addition to this culture, "Captain America", fits the bill perfectly. Set in the 1940's, he battles his evil Nazi foes with all the swagger and chiseled abs tensile-town can muster. And being a superhero movie junkie, I watched my favorite childhood comic book hero kick some bad-guy ass with delight.
Is it a fun movie? Yes! Can I draw comparisons to today's fire service? Oh, you bet your three-quarter boots!
It is difficult to watch the public (and media) fawn over an imaginary Hollywood hero created to represent the "best" in American heroism and courage. Want to see a REAL American hero? People need to look no further than their local firefighter or police officer (or soldier, for that matter)! And our REAL public service heroes are under attack from forces much more powerful than the ominous Red Skull and his Nazi thugs.
Fire has historically been portrayed as the fireman's arch enemy, but reality is much more sobering. Budget shortfalls, shrinking tax revenue, partisan politics, pension cuts, layoffs, station closings, increased call volume, internal strife, light-weight construction,… our enemies are many and growing in number!
Hollywood heroes are stoically courageous under special effects fire - but put them on an understaffed first-due engine responding to a heavily involved light-weight structure fire with possible victims and let's see how brave they really are. The bullets we face in today's fire service are relentless, and they are not CGI. They are very REAL and can kill - regardless of your chiseled abs!
Tuesday, July 5
Friday, June 17
Tuesday, June 14
If you carry a cell phone these days, you carry a camera and video recorder, too. Technology has made life recordable, anywhere, anytime, even when it's inconvenient or inappropriate! Take a moment to notice bystanders on your next MVA or structure fire; my guess is you'll see plenty of cell phones out recording our every move. This is the technological world we live in - it's the new reality.
Unfortunately, firefighters carry these devices, too - and it has caused some serious problems. Whether for fun, curiosity, or to fill some narcissistic need for acceptance - firefighters are recording scenes that should never be captured. Even if you're intentions were to lever release those images from your cell phone, bad things have a way of happening to inappropriate behavior. We've seen this happen before with its tragic aftermath for the fireman and the families involved!
Needless to say, these videos and photos should never be posted on the internet. Make no mistake, once you post something on a social media site, there's no pulling the strings to get it back. It's out there, forever - and people ARE watching! You can't control the monster once it is out of the box, so why create the monster at all.
Best policy: Leave the phone in your pocket or on the rig! Besides, don't you have something better to do?!
Tuesday, May 31
Wednesday, May 25
So, congratulations! If you've made it to the pedestal on the backs of the men and women you call "family", then here's a big Atta-Boy metal for you. Now kindly walk your pompous butt out those bay doors to make room for someone who really gives a damn about the greatest profession in the world!
Metals are for show, mettle is earned through trust and action!
Monday, May 23
Monday, May 9
Wednesday, May 4
The mastermind of 9/11 is dead! And though it will never erase our memory of that horrible day or bring back friends and loved ones, or 343 of FDNY's bravest - it's a small piece of delayed justice. Seventy two virgins in Heaven? I think not!
Tuesday, April 12
Just finished a new study painting of a Piper in all his pomp and splendor! This piece has taken on new significance since I've been practicing on my chanter and have realized how much skill and dedication pipers have. Kudos to ALL of you!
Monday, April 4
Why is it that some RIT crew members think that a fast and effective operation means emptying every compartment on their rig and carrying it inside to preform a rescue? You've seen these people, the ones in their bright yellow RIT vest standing like statues in a mountain of equipment waiting to leap into a rescue situation. I have even taught in a few departments that insist on taking a chainsaw into a smoke-filled, zero visibility environment as standard first-in practice (WTF?)!
I like to think of RIT as a well organized, trained, and proactive safety team - intervening before an issue arises (e.g., placing ladders, pulling support hand-lines, enforcing fire ground safety, ect...). It's a simple concept; try to stop something bad from happening before something bad happens.
However, in the rare occurrence that something goes wrong, this team needs to be ready, competent, and able to move fast and light with the bare minimum of equipment. Believe me, I could ramble on with a dissertation regarding my thoughts on training and the application of RIT. But for now I'll just say; remember, the "R" in RIT stands for rapid, not restricted.
Sunday, March 27
What an exciting FDIC! This year's event was an incredible experience of meeting new friends, laughing loudly with old ones, autographing prints, and book signings. The popularity of Drawn By Fire continues to skyrocket and it's humbling to see it fly off the shelves - I never would have imagined this success!
However, they real joy of the week was getting to meet new people and catch up with old friends. Those of you who know me understand the impact that both Bobby Halton and Rick Lasky have had on my career, both as a firefighter and as a fire service artist - I honestly would not be standing on the stage that I am without these two men. It is a MUST for me to catch Chief Lasky's class every year and I was honored to be able to get this photo with two of my most valued mentors. Thank you, gentlemen!
My first FDIC was in 1997, and my very first class was John Norman's eight-hour fire ground tactics lecture. So you can imagine my joy of sitting with him signing our books at the same table this past Thursday at the PennWell bookstore. Wow! Not that I'm surprised, but he is the nicest, most down to earth person you'll ever meet. As with most of us, whether big city (FDNY in Chief Norman's case) or small town, career, combination or volunteer, when you get right down to it, we are all just firemen.
The week finished up with my signing the limited edition, 2011 FDIC print at Lucas Oil stadium Friday morning. Again, fun time meeting people from all corners of the fire service landscape. Two hours and 250 prints later, I skipped lunch and headed over for my last book signing appearance.
Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy conference to stop by and say "hello", get a print, or buy my book - I truly appreciate it and I look forward to seeing you next year! April 16-21, 2012, get it on your calendar now:)
Saturday, March 19
Well, it's that time of year again and I can't wait - packing up today and heading to Indianapolis for FDIC! This will be my tenth trip and it just keeps getting bigger and better. Though my roll has changed from firefighter attendee to Fire Engineering staff, I still take in as many classes as possible and soak up as much knowledge as I can in one short week. It truly is a special place!
I am also honored to be signing a special edition FDIC only print again this year. I will be at the Special Events Stage in Lucas Oil Stadium Friday morning (there will be maps and an event schedule posted). Please stop on over and pick up your free copy - I'd love to meet you! I will also be at the PennWell books booth signing my book Drawn By Fire and meeting folks Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.
It's almost time to hit the road and I'm excited about seeing good friends, making new ones, having some of Indy's excellent cuisine, and getting shivers to the drone of bagpipes. The cartoon above says it all - the experience is priceless every year! Hope to see you there.
Thursday, March 17
Wednesday, March 2
Friday, February 25
You would have to be living in a very deep hole not to have noticed the vicious pro vs anti-union rhetoric being slung by everyone from politicians to the old lady walking her dog down the block.This is a nasty and dirty line being drawn in the sand, and one that my state of Ohio will face shortly (if not already with SB-5).
I am not a union member, but watched for many years as my father worked for union and non-union coal mines in Kentucky. I have witnessed first hand what ownership will do without a union holding them accountable for egregious cuts, safety violations, and worker's rights. Unions, be they IAFF or any other are not without fault, but these latest attacks on union rights and the ability to organize, negotiate, maintain current benefits, and secure a safe future for their workers is inexplicably wrong - and I will use the point of my pen to voice this message as loud as I can. There will be more!
I will leave you with this quote from our seventh President, Andrew Jackson. Sadly, it holds as true today (be it Local, State or Federal Gov't) as it did 150 years ago.
"I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office." - President Andrew Jackson